Political Analysis

Detainees’ Relatives Go on Hunger Strike

Families and Rights Advocates Criticize Abusive Arrests, Detentions

Relatives of those detained during the Sa’ada War have decided to go on a hunger strike starting on Sunday, and vowed to continue the protest until their demands are answered and the alleged abuse of their loved ones in jail ends.

This came after the Detainees’ relatives demonstrated outside the political security’s intelligence compound gate, protesting the treatment from which the detainees allegedly suffer.

Prisoners’ relatives have claimed that prisoners detained during the most recent war in Saada have been exposed to abuse by prison guards. The family of Mohammed al-Gawili, while on a visit to his prison facility, allegedly found his face bloodstained and were told that prison guards had dragged him from the prison cell up to the visiting room.

Housed in solitary confinement, he had been severely beaten and had his nose broken. His condition was relayed by his sister to the Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms, and to the detainees campaign of the Socialist Party in Sana’a.

Other relatives of detainees have reported similar stories about the prison conditions of those detained in Political Security and about obstacles imposed by the Political Security prison to prevent organized visitation.

Commenting on the cases, Ali al-Dailmi of the Yemeni Oranization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms wondered how long the constitution and law would be abused. He explained that, despite receiving presidential decrees mandating their release, many detainees still remain imprisoned.

He also estimated the total number of prisoners in Saada at three thousand, and the total number detained in relation to uprisings in the South at five thousand.

Al-Dailmi appealed to the president to apply the constitution and to release all political detainees. He questioned the role of Qatar as a mediator, which he claimed had coincided with 6 years of arrests and abuses, pointing to the recent detention of 22 individuals in the North on the charge of celebrating the Shi’ite al-Ghadeer day.

The arresting officer allegedly reported to the prosecution that he was motivated because he “doesn’t like the celebration of al-Ghadeer day.” Al-Dailmi added, “we appeal to everybody dealing with this subject to treat it as a humanitarian issue.”

He appealed for demonstrations during the coming days in front of the Political Security prison demanding the release of all detainees.

Ali al-Asimi, al-Gwali’s lawyer, discussing official detention policy with regards to the Southern Movement claimed, “the authorities arrest the ones that participate in peace marches while those who carry weapons and call for liberation of the South are free.”

He added, “the ones who get out of their cars with weapons, and are moving from one province to another violating all the security rules are, in practice, considered law-abiding.”

At the demonstration outside Political Security, one of the detainees’ mothers shouted, “even this tree standing in front of the gate feels their suffering and sorrow while men standing behind it have lost their humanity and have no conscience.  How can they arrest our families and torture them this way?”

Detainees’ relatives have also submitted a complaint letter to the head of the political security’s intelligence demanding the respect of Yemeni law and international human rights agreements to which Yemen is a party that mandate the proper treatment of prisoners.